13 Mar New Independent Review of Cadiz Water Project Commissioned by Local Public Agencies
Panel report confirms Project’s Court-Approved Management Plan Promises Robust Protection of Mojave Desert Resources
March 13, 2019 – (Los Angeles, CA) – Today, Cadiz Inc. announced the availability of a new technical report released by Southern California public water agencies Three Valleys Municipal Water District and Jurupa Community Services District (the “Districts”) that was jointly commissioned to provide an independent assessment of the Cadiz Water Project, including available technical work and the Project’s Groundwater Management, Monitoring, and Mitigation Plan (“GMMMP”). The Cadiz Water Project will manage the groundwater basin at the Company’s private agricultural property to reduce an ongoing loss of clean water to evaporation and salinity and make available a new water supply option for 400,000 people in Southern California. The GMMMP is designed to ensure project operations do not harm the local environment, defined as avoiding “undesirable results,” and protect the interests of San Bernardino County residents.
The Districts’ panel report was prepared by a team of four independent groundwater experts commissioned by the Districts and selected from separate hydrology and engineering firms that have not previously been hired by the Company. Three Valleys is hosting a Board workshop today to discuss the report’s findings. The report and a press release announcing the report are available on Three Valleys’ website: https://www.threevalleys.com/
Although the Project has already been reviewed in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and approved under San Bernardino County’s groundwater ordinance, the Districts commissioned the expert panel to provide a separate opinion regarding the ability of the Project and its GMMMP to provide sufficient monitoring and mitigation to ensure operations will avoid undesirable results in light of “new science” identified by project opponents and their calls to re-open the debate about the adequacy of the court-validated protections. In its report to the Districts, the expert panel concluded that the GMMMP and its adaptive management approach are appropriate and sufficient to protect the Mojave Desert’s critical resources and avoid any undesirable results from Project operations.
Scott Slater, Cadiz Inc. Chief Executive Officer, provided the following statement about the report:
“From the moment we conceptualized the conservation and storage strategies furthered by the Cadiz Water Project, along with our partner Santa Margarita Water District, we have prioritized offering a safe, clean water supply that is also environmentally sustainable. We believe the stringent environmental review, the County’s oversight and court validation demonstrate that commitment.
“Therefore, we welcomed the local agency review, as the declared policy of California is that local agencies are best suited to oversee the management of groundwater. This review was conducted by four groundwater experts, and we are pleased that they have comprehensively reviewed the Project along with newly identified reports offered by opponents and again validated the strength of the GMMMP providing further independent confirmation that the Project can provide robust protection of key Mojave Desert resources.”
The panel report recommends several complementary additions to the GMMMP – not operational changes – designed to instill further public confidence in the Project plan. These include public monitoring plans prior to the start of the Project, increased frequency of groundwater monitoring activities, additional reviews of weather conditions and additional technical monitoring features and installations at nearby springs and wells. The report noted that the recommendations are provided in an abundance of caution and do not reflect any shortcomings in the GMMMP.
In response to the recommended additions, Slater added,
“We’re proud of the project’s robust, Court-approved management plan that is based on best practices in groundwater management and features more than 100 monitoring installations and limitations on pumping. We are assessing the panel’s recommendations and will seek consultation with the County, Santa Margarita Water District and our public agency partners regarding their feasibility, implementation and timing. If the recommendations add to the public’s confidence in our commitment to be environmentally benign, we will have to give them very serious consideration.”